G – Goals and how dreary they can be – and how to fix that

Goals. We are all supposed to have them. We are supposed to be driven by them, inspired by them to peak productivity and massive achievement. But oh boy, working purely to goals can be dull. Goals are like work. Proper work, where you are meant to show up on time and make progress and meet... Continue Reading →

F – Forging new ideas

Whenever you write, you are generating fresh ideas - or you should be. But how can you come up with new ideas consistently? Everyone agrees, the Muse is dead or never existed, and we all need to earn a living. Nobody these days lives in an Italian garret, supported by private income until the inspiration... Continue Reading →

E – Experience and how to get it

I always admired Harry Harrison - for his pulp SF, which I loved as a teenager - and his author bio. His bio revealed that before he became a writer,  he had a ton of non-writing jobs. 'Truck driver' was one. I knew what this meant. Harrison had experience. He didn't go to writing school and... Continue Reading →

D- Description and how to be better at it

Ah, description. Beloved of Victorian novelists and fantasy writers everywhere. How I loathe it. What? But why? Because mostly it doesn't do anything, just sits there looking pretty and forming no useful purpose. It's wordplay, which for its own sake does not make a gripping read. Yes, yes, deep literary novels. But I'm not kidding... Continue Reading →

C – the Character quiz, its uses and pitfalls

There are a lot of questionnaires out there for you to fill in whilst building up your characters. '100 questions to create an amazing character' is the usual tagline. Typically a quiz will have several sections for you to complete, detailing a character's appearance,  family, skills and material possessions. But are these questionnaires a helpful way... Continue Reading →

B – Books, how long should they be? A wordcount guide

I write novels. Or do I? My first novels were 50,000 words long - because that was the word length given as the minimum to win Nanowrimo. But how long should a novel be, really? How about a short story? This quick reference offers a guide to the expected wordcount of various genres. But take... Continue Reading →

A – Antagonists and how to make them

This post is part of the April blogging AZChallenge.  Today it's A. I struggle with antagonists.  Almost all of my early stories have no antagonist at all. Or rather, none that is embodied in a handy walking, talking bad guy on the page. Let's take a look at some of my early Nanowrimo novels. The Fairy... Continue Reading →

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